The Pennsylvania Teaching and Certification Resource

Aspiring teachers looking to obtain a Pennsylvania teacher certification will find the process fairly similar to other states. However, the state does offer quite a few pathways depending on experience and education. The state’s Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality, Division of Certification Services oversees the certification process, which is outlined in detail below.

How to Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania

In order to earn a Pennsylvania teacher certification, applicants must meet certain education and testing requirements. Firstly, all Pennsylvania teachers are required to hold a bachelor’s degree and attend a state-approved teacher education program.

Candidates for teacher certification in Pennsylvania must decide on the type of teaching certificate and subject area for which they plan to teach before applying for certification. Depending on an applicants choice of teaching subjects they may apply for one of the following certificates: Regular Education Instructional I, Regular Education Instructional II, Educational Specialist, Intern, Vocational Education Instructional I, Vocational Education Instructional II, or Vocational Education Intern.

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Teachers who have an out-of-state certification may be eligible for Pennsylvania reciprocity provided they meet the remaining criteria. Anyone looking for further information on reciprocity or on Pennsylvania teacher certification renewal process should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Pennsylvania

One of the most important steps towards Pennsylvania teacher certification is completing a teacher education program at an accredited school. There are six regional accreditation agencies, which are overseen by the US Department of Education, that accredit schools across the US . Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) is responsible for accrediting Pennsylvania schools. Aspiring teachers looking to work in the state must confirm that their school of choice is MSA-accredited. Otherwise, they may not be eligible for a Pennsylvania educator certification. Additionally, applicants who are considering online teaching certification must confirm that the school offering the program is also accredited by the corresponding regional accreditation body even when headquartered out of state.

In addition to a regional accreditation, most schools that offer Pennsylvania teachers certification programs will apply for a CAEP accreditation. Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness is a newly formed organization through the merger of NCATE and TEAC, two formerly independent accreditation agencies. CAEP will continue with the highly regarded standard of both NCATE and TEAC, which were distinguished markers of rigorous standards within the teacher education sector.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Pennsylvania.

Quick Guide

Pennsylvania Teacher Education Requirements

Traditionally, individuals who are pursuing Pennsylvania teachers licensing must complete an approved teacher education program resulting in a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a recommendation from the institute. During the course of their teacher preparation programs, eligible applicants will have earned at least six credits in the area of college-level Mathematics and six credits in English Literature and Composition. Additionally, beginning in 2011, prospective teachers in the state of Pennsylvania must have a minimum of three credits related to ESL education and nine credits in the area of teaching students with disabilities. Candidates for a teaching license who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in an endorsed content area who have not undergone a traditional teacher preparation program may be eligible for a Pennsylvania teaching certificate through one of the available alternative certification routes.

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Pennsylvania Teacher Outlook as of 2014
The Occupational Supply & Demand System projects 1,470 average annual new job opportunities for elementary school teachers, 570 average annual new job opportunities for middle school teachers, and 1,330 average annual new job opportunities for secondary school teachers in Pennsylvania through 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Pennsylvania at 133,010 excluding special education (2013). Elementary school teachers in the state make an average annual salary of $60,000, while middle school teachers make an annual average of $58,950 and secondary school teachers an annual average of $61,470 (BLS 2013). For information regarding employment opportunities, state budget allocation and education policy, visit the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a local branch of the NEA.

Pennsylvania Teacher Testing Requirements

Pennsylvania State SealPennsylvania requires that all individuals seeking initial instructional certification in the state take and pass the Praxis series of tests in the areas of fundamental content knowledge (i.e. reading, mathematics, and writing) as well as subject-area expertise in the content area they wish to teach. Educational Specialists who are licensed in another area such as school psychology or nursing are exempt from the testing requirement.

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Additional Teacher Certification Requirements

Pennsylvania Law states that all applicants for employment in public and private schools undergo background checks. All teaching applicants must submit to a fingerprinting process and be subjected to a state and federal background check before applying for Pennsylvania educator certification. The process may be started by registering through the web-based computer application, “Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History” (PATCH).

Pennsylvania Teaching License Application Process

Once all of the steps to Pennsylvania teacher certification have been completed. Applicants can apply through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) or they can send in their documentation through the mail. The following documention should be included:

  1. Selection of the certification type/subject area
  2. Verification of bachelor’s degree
  3. Verification of completed teacher education program
  4. Submission of Praxis test scores
  5. Payment of non-refundable processing fees

Division of Certification Services
Pennsylvania Department of Education School Leadership
333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333

Visit the state’s Department of Education for further details on teacher certification in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 12,760 $27,260
Kindergarten Teachers 6,210 $54,220
Elementary School Teachers 57,460 $57,230
Middle School Teachers 21,770 $58,910
Secondary School Teachers 52,640 $59,640

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

Pennsylvania Teacher Interviews

Interview with Trish Nodolski, Pennsylvania Preschool Teacher and Program Director

Interview with Lisa Butler, Pennsylvania Middle School Spanish Teacher

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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Pennsylvania

Question: How to I become a substitute teacher in Pennsylvania?

Answer: To be a substitute teacher in Pennsylvania, you do not need to be a certified teacher, but you must have a bachelor’s degree. With a degree, you can substitute for up to 20 days in one position. To work for longer than 20 days in the same position, you must get an emergency permit through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Question: How do I become an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania?

Answer: To be an elementary teacher in Pennsylvania, you need to have a certificate in elementary education through the state. You must also have a bachelor’s degree and have completed a teacher preparation program. A student teaching experience is also required, as are passing scores on the Praxis exams.

Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in Pennsylvania?

Answer: To become a high school teacher in Pennsylvania, you must be granted a secondary education certificate. This requires that you have a bachelor’s degree and have taken appropriate education coursework along with a student teaching experience in a secondary classroom. You must also pass the Praxis exams.

Page edited by Charles Sipe.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. Pennsylvania State Department of Education: http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pa_certification/8635
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000